North Dakota is suing the Biden administration over its halting of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water. The shutdown will cause significant damage to the state's economy, and North Dakota has already lost tens of millions of dollars in revenue.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday with the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota Western Division, asserts that President Joe Biden's suspension of lease sales in North Dakota is unlawful. The complaint claims the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management illegally halted oil and gas lease auctions in the state.
North Dakota's lawsuit calls on the BLM to reschedule the two lost lease sales, and would prevent the agency from blocking future sales in the state.
The lawsuit said the two canceled sales this year have cost the state more than $80 million in lost revenue. The state claimed that the canceled leases could cost the state "billions" in the coming months if the leases are not reinstated. North Dakota is the second-biggest crude oil-producing U.S. state, and a bulk of its tax revenue come from oil and gas production.
"Oil and gas production are central to North Dakota's economy and the welfare of its citizens, responsible for 54% of the value of the State's economy, generating approximately 76% of the State's tax revenue and creating approximately 66,000 good-paying jobs in the State," the complaint states.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a statement, "I have taken this action to protect North Dakota's economy, the jobs of our hard-working citizens, and North Dakota's rights to control its own natural resources."
"Without following the legally required procedures, [the Bureau of Land Management] arbitrarily canceled the March and June lease auctions and shows every sign of continuing to violate its statutory duties," Stenehjem's news release stated.
"In addition to being a foolish idea, President Biden's moratorium on oil and gas leasing on public lands is illegal," North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer said in a statement. "It increases federal and state budget shortfalls, hampers state and private mineral owners' rights, and makes the United States less energy independent and more reliant on foreign producers who are not all good actors, like Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Venezuela."
The Bureau of Land Management declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Last month, a federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked Biden's suspension of oil and gas leasing on public land and water. The judge noted his ruling applied nationwide.
Stenehjem said, "I welcome and support the Louisiana federal district court's decision, and I look forward to defending North Dakota's vital interests in its natural resources and continuing to put the pressure on the Federal government to do the right thing for our state."
In March, a lawsuit against Biden was launched by 21 states over the president's executive order that shut down the Keystone XL pipeline. The lawsuit included North Dakota as well as Texas, Montana, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Biden halted oil and gas lease sales once he entered office in January, citing climate change concerns as the reason for shutting down the leasing.